The Art of Recruiting a Passive Candidate
The fall hiring season has begun. The market is very active and depending on the skills you are looking for you may find that the candidates you need are working and generally happy in their current position. Finding and attracting professionals who are already fully employed is a much different activity than responding to those who are unemployed. Here are some tips:
1. The sizzle factor. The typical boring and sterile job posting won’t work for the working professional. Posting on job boards won’t work either. These are happily employed individuals who aren’t spending their spare time mining job boards. Your best shot at getting their attention is by email or social network connection. When you approach them however, don’t just point them to the boring job posting. Attract them with interesting work, cool projects, growth numbers, fringe benefits, growth opportunity – you know – stuff that successful people will pay attention to.
2. Respond immediately. Assuming that you are successful in attracting some passive lookers – you MUST respond to them immediately. These folks are like ripe fruit, they are primed and ready to eat but if they fall off the tree they will spoil. Be interested in making a connection with them. Start a dialogue and find out what attracted them to you (your company).
3. Expand your work hours. Flexibility is the key here. You will need to take time for interviews over lunch and before/after hours. These are working professionals and may not have the luxury of taking time off for an interview – especially if they aren’t sure that what you have is better than where they are today. Also, many companies are still understaffed, meaning that those who are working are putting in more than 40 hours a week. Go easy on them and be flexible during the interview process – it will pay dividends later.
4. Attend professional events. Denver is a pretty networked town. There are meetups, user groups, events and happy hours galore. The most successful individuals are truly committed to developing their careers and will often spend time outside of work to make sure they stay current, meet new people and nurture their professional network. This is also one of the best places to meet people who might be open to a new opportunity. Extra tip: If I’m looking for sales people I find them at events because I can watch them in action first and then decide if I want to pursue them.
5. Refine your sales pitch. You need help from your current employees on this one. Why do people work for your company? What do they like best/least? What new projects are on the horizon that will help garner interest from a passive candidate? How many internal promotions have you done in the past 12 months? What is the career path for the individual you are targeting? Get your sales pitch down before you begin the interview process. Remember, passive candidates are not looking – but they will listen and engage with new opportunities that have something MORE/BETTER/DIFFERENT to offer.
6. Negotiate the package. Passive candidates won’t make a change just for salary. They probably have a nice benefit package, bonus and 401k – you’ll need to work all of this information into your discussions with them. Find out what the WHOLE package looks like up front so you’ll know where you have leverage and what your offer will need to look like – you don’t want to blow the deal over coinsurance or 401k matching at the finish line.
Attracting and engaging passive job seekers who are presently employed is a lot like courtship. Your pursuit plan must be skillful and well planned in order to attract the top guns you need in a tight market.
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